Controversial Election Results

The results of two elections in the Middle East, in Lebanon and Iraq, appear disquieting for anyone who wants to see peace in the region.  In Lebanon, Hezbollah, that has moved from being purely a military and social organization into a political force in Lebanon, won more seats in the recent election (19 out of 128) for the Lebanese Parliament.  Sheikh Nasrallah claimed this as a victory.  Given Hezbollah’s Shia identification with Iran, and its dedication to fighting Israel, this is a disturbing result.  It means that the Shia majority in Southern Lebanon accept the idea that Lebanon should be at war as a proxy of Iran. An alternative opinion is that having political responsibility in Lebanon might make Hezbollah tend to be more responsible and cautious in pursuing its anti-Israel policy.

Similarly, in Iraq, the party of Muqtada al-Sadr, known for his militant opposition to the US presence in Iraq, has now been elected to the Iraqi Parliament.  They obtained 54 out of 329 seats.  However, although they are devotedly Shia, Sadr has taken a more pro-Arab, anti-Iran stance since the defeat of ISIS by the Iraqi Army and his militia.  Nevertheless, there are calculated to be 91 pro-Iranian members of the Iraqi Parliament. So the continued schism between the Sunni (who controlled Iraq under Saddam Hussein) and the Shia (who controlled Iraq under the PM Maliki) is still the major issue in Iraqi politics.

Although on the face of it these election results in Lebanon and Iraq do not look good for Israel, the fact that the parties of Hezbollah and Sadr in their respective countries, are now part of the political establishment may make them less militant.  The fact that Israel  essentially destroyed the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and Iran has been unable to respond (except possibly by getting Hamas to fire rockets into Israel), means that Iran is no longer seen as a serious threat to Israel.  The fact that the US under Trump has reneged on the Iranian nuclear deal (the JCPOA) and that Russia under Putin has stood by and allowed Israel a free hand in attacking Iranian assets in Syria means that Iran has nowhere to go.  In fact there are reports that under Russian threats Iran is beginning to withdraw from Syria.  It will then be unlikely that Hezbollah alone will attempt to face Israel, because if it did the Israeli retaliation would lose it support in Lebanon.  So the current outcome may not be so bad for Israel after all.

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Hamas raises the heat

Hamas has been desperately trying to get itself and the Palestinian cause back in the headlines.  Compared to what is going on in the Arab world it is certainly the least of their concerns, and the world is perhaps finally growing weary of the Palestinian eternal obsessive quest to destroy Israel, like tilting at imaginary windmills.   The attacks by tens of thousands of civilians against the Israeli border, led by Hamas terrorists, is a case in point.  But, with only 62 fatalities, 50 of them Hamas operatives, they were unable to do more than get a UN Security Council statement and an EU meeting, both worthless.

So now they have resorted to real military activity, probably ordered by Iran.  They blasted southern Israel, not far from where I am writing this, with 70 rockets.  One of these exploded in a kindergarten, luckily before the kids arrived.  Israel cannot, of course, accept this.  But, Israel is, as always, in a dilemma.  The IDF could destroy Hamas, and flatten Gaza in the process.  But, in doing so they would give Hamas, even in defeat, a great deal of sympathetic media coverage, and this would, as always, result in anti-Israel animus.  Israel cannot afford to win.  A defeat for Hamas is the only way they can win.

PM Netanyahu has been meeting with his security cabinet and trying to decide how to respond.  The IDF already pounded Gaza, hitting 35 Hamas targets, including an attack tunnel that entered Israel after going thru Egyptian territory.  But, even though some in Israel would like to finally destroy Hamas and take care of this thorn in Israel’s side, the current threat from Iran in Syria, a far more serious problem, looms large in all security calculations.  So for now, it is likely that Israel will strike back, but will not take such extensive action that would lead to a war.  Iran was hit hard in Syria, and Israel does not want to give the Iranians and Hezbollah an excuse to try to hit back.

The latest reports are that Egypt has mediated a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, and this is good from the Israeli perspective.  As PM Netanyahu stated, “If they test us they pay immediately, if they continue to test us they will pay dearly.”

Personal tragedy

I admitted Naomi, my darling wife of 57 years, to the closed Alzheimer’s ward at the Orpaz Home in Beer Sheva, that is about 5 mins drive from our home.

Since we moved last Sept from Netanya we have seen a marked deterioration in Naomi’s cognitive ability.  It has become like living with an insane woman.  Everything she does, getting up in the morning, undressing, showering, drying herself, dressing, eating, has to be told to her, often against aggressive denial.  Finally I was spending at least half my time being with her. She would come into the study every 3-5 mins and check where I was, and then she would forget and check again.

Miriam and I had seen two Homes in Beer Sheva (one of the municipality) and we were not impressed with.  When we were getting the required forms prepared by our doctor (GP), we also had to see his nurse, and she told us that the Orpaz Home in Beer Sheva had a small closed Alzheimer’s ward and she highly recommended it and she had in fact put her father in there.
So we visited it and it was quite nice, although small (only 25 patients).  For Miriam it has a great advantage that she could walk there on Shabbat to visit her Ima.  We  were also impressed by the Manageress, who speaks English and was very responsive and they had a much brighter facility than the others in Beer Sheva.  Added to which it is really only 5 mins drive straight down the main road outside our house.   So we decided we wanted Naomi to go there and I gave them the required forms.
Last Monday (when Miriam was still here (before leaving for a trip to the USA and at our request) they sent their Admissions Committee to meet with Naomi, and they asked the usual questions etc. and made sure she can walk etc. and then told us she would be admitted.  On Tues I went there and signed the contract and Naomi was admitted on Weds morning.
It was of course very difficult.   At first she was very friendly and happy there and we sort of left her.  But, then a nurse tried to take her blood pressure and she got upset and shouted, so I had to go back in and tell the nurse to stop and calmed her.  Then  I had to leave her. I spent half an hour meeting with the chief nurse (a Beduin man named Wadiah) and an hour meeting with the social worker and the manageress and then the doctor (a Russian lady).  I gave them all copious details about Naomi and her pills etc. and it was all entered into their computer.
I felt guilty as if I were abandoning her, betraying her trust. I hope that they will treat her well. Finally, after many years it had to be done.

The Trail of Tears

I have been watching a TV series entitled “The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen” on the History Channel.  This tells the story of the famous American heroes Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crocket and so on.  What is illuminating is the terrible degree of ethnic cleansing, as it is now called, of American Indians (or indigenous people) that took place.  What was unfortunate was that many Indian tribes allied with the British against the American settlement and Government, and so as further wars erupted after the War of Independence was won, it was essentially seen as a fight for survival of the American nation.

The Indians were mainly small and scattered tribes and they would have really been no threat to America, but as the British were considered an effective enemy, this meant that the Americans were motivated to destroy and remove the Indian threat from the eastern US.  The Shawnee chief Tecumseh organized a multi-tribe confederation with the British against the Americans in what is now Michigan as part of the War of !812.  An American army under Gen. Harrison defeated them at the Battle of the Thames River (now in Canada) in 1813 and Tecumseh was killed, thus leading to the breakup of his confederation.   The Indians were then left leaderless and defenseless against American forces.

In the Mississippi territory an armed group of Creek Indians known as the “red sticks” in 1813 massacred ca. 500 white settlers and burnt Fort Mims.  In revenge, Andrew Jackson, with Daniel Boone as guide, led a small army mainly of Tennessee volunteers and upon finding their main camp massacred every man, woman and child.  Then he forced the Creek nation to cede millions of acres of land to the United States, that became mainly the State of Alabama.  Because of this success and his ruthless efficiency Andrew Jackson was then sent as a General to defend the Port of New Orleans against a British invasion.  With a much smaller force (4,500) he defeated the British Army  (12,000) at the Battle of New Orleans.  This propelled him into the Presidency in 1829.

One of his first acts was to introduce the “Indian Removal Act” of  1830 that was passed by Congress and resulted in the physical removal of all major Indian tribes still settled east of the Mississippi River.  This included the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole nations.  They were forced at gunpoint by the US Army to move west from their ancestral lands to what was then known as Indian territory (later Oklahoma), in many cases a distance of 600 miles on foot.  They were given minimal food and water.  During what became known as the “Trail of Tears” some 18,000 out of a total of ca. 50,000 indigenous Americans died or were murdered.  When I first learned of this atrocity I felt ashamed to be an American.

And yet many Americans, especially liberals, have the gall to criticize Jews and Israelis for their supposed repressive treatment of the so-called Palestinian Arabs.  The American nation is built on the massacre and murder of many nations, indigenous Americans and Blacks.  But, you can’t turn the clock back, America is a fact, and similarly Israel is equally a fact.  To those who think that Israel is illegitimate, not only is it legitimate (under international law and history), but we are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel, and we will not be removed again.

Brinksmanship

The North Korean dictators, the Kim dynasty, are past-masters at brinksmanship.  That is developing threatening weapons (at the expense of their own people’s welfare) and then using them to leverage more power on the international scene.  In doing this they are aggressive risk takers.  But, the key to their actions is that they will only go so far, to the brink, but not further, they will absolutely take no action that could harm the control of their hereditary regime.

It seems that they, specifically Kim Jong-un, has met his match in Pres. Donald Trump.  When Kim Jong-un was testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles, the surrounding countries, South Korea and Japan were understandably nervous.  He also threatened to target the US.  He wants to be recognized as a powerful actor on the international stage and wants his country to be a player at the highest levels, equivalent to a superpower.  Previous American Presidents have failed to deal effectively with them and they refused to meet with them because they were afraid it would give them too much credibility.  Meanwhile they continued their aggressive military developments.

When he “tested” missiles  recently over Japan and towards Guam (a US protectorate and military base) Pres. Trump threatened him back and flew US AF planes along the North Korean border.  He also threatened him verbally and since Trump is considered to be capable of anything, this brought about a 180 degree turnaround in Kim’s position.  Instead of threatening, he agreed to stop the tests, stop his nuclear program and enter negotiations.  In effect his brinksmanship worked, he got what he wanted, a meeting with the great chief, the President of the USA.  Clearly China played an important role in his decision; after many years of doing nothing about their ally, Trump put economic pressure on China and Pres. Xi  had two unprecedented meetings with Kim, in which he no doubt told him to stop this behavior and cooperate.

A Summit between Trump and Kim was agreed to take place in Singapore in June, and then again, in another example of brinksmanship, Kim and his North Korean puppets started to reverse their tone again, and were unavailable for meetings to organize the summit.  So Trump did what no previous President has done, he peremptorily cancelled the Summit and once again threatened Kim’s regime.  This quick reaction must have affected Kim, because once again he reversed himself and became cooperative.  He met again with the South Korean President after cancelling the scheduled meeting.  And he does desperately want to meet with the Pres. of the USA, but he doesn’t want to pay the price, denuclearization and stopping missile testing.  By contrast, Trump is not going to a meeting unless he knows in advance that Kim is going to give major concessions.  So now the meeting hangs in the balance.

I predict the meeting will take place because both sides need it.  Kim to show his credibility on the world stage, and Trump to show he can make a deal with the devil and win.   However, the twists and turns of this plot have not yet been exhausted, expect more brinksmanship from the North Korean leader.

 

Evaluating Gaza

Two things haven’t worked for many years, the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and the so-called BDS movement against Israel. That includes and is based upon a liberal-leftist attitude that says that Israel uses disproportionate force against the poor, desperate Palestinians.  But, this biased view is wrong on several counts.  I once used to believe, maybe seen from the perspective of a Diaspora Jew, that it would be possible to reason with these critics of Israel.  But, now I see from the perspective of an Israeli that it is not worth the effort.  Their basically anti-Semitic animus cannot be reasoned with.

Take for instance the recent rioting by Palestinian Arabs near the Gaza border with Israel.  THEY were attacking US.  Our border guards were defending the borders of our sovereign land.  No country in the world would allow a hostile mob to breach its border and pour into the country to carry out kidnapping, mayhem and murder.  Furthermore, Hamas spokesmen have admitted not only that the so-called demonstrations were not peaceful (duh!) but that most of those killed by targeted Israeli fire (50 out of 62) were in fact Hamas members (armed and trained terrorists, but not wearing uniform).

Well, we all knew this, even the liberal media writing their columns and the TV cameramen taking their pictures knew this.  But, it is the perceived liberal wisdom, the well-accepted story that is completely opposite to the truth.  They were not poor, desperate civilians, they were an organized mob lead by Hamas terrorists, and they were not killed indiscriminately, but only if they approached the fence or if they fired at the IDF guards.  Think how differently this would have been reported if it were a Mexican mob attacking the US border.  Would they have been described as “poor and desperate” and the US response as “disproportionate.”  Indeed one can predict that the number of casualties (62 out of up to 30,000 a day is really indeed very small) would have been far higher.

Meanwhile, Israel was the host to the Giro D’Italia, the prestigious cycling event; Israel defeated Iran’s aggression from Syria; Pres. Trump ditched the Iran nuclear deal; Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and an Israeli, Netta Barzilai, won the Eurovision Song Contest, voted for by millions of people around the world.  Life goes on, and in the final analysis who cares about the Gaza riots.  Hamas may have won the PR war, but the IDF prevented the incursion of these angry, destructive mobs into Israel, and that ‘s what really counts.  In a few years, this little Palestinian tantrum will be forgotten.  Israel hit back and destroyed about 30 Hamas facilities (hardly reported) and Hamas is running out of options.  They can win as many PR battles as they like, but it won’t get them any nearer to their tactical political goals.

 

The Mueller Probe

The Mueller Probe is now a year old, and it has nothing to show for the millions of dollars spent on lawyers, interviews and investigations.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump campaign colluded in any way with the Russians to subvert the US electoral process.

The whole scheme looks like it was concocted to cover-up the misdeeds of the Obama Administration in actively using Government facilities, including the FBI and the Dept. of Justice, in trying to compromise the Trump campaign and to prevent an investigation into the truly serious criminal misdeeds of Hillary Clinton.   Given that attack is the best form of defense, that’s what the Democrats have done to avoid damage to their favorite candidate, a truly rapacious woman.

It has now been revealed that the Obama Administration had an FBI agent infiltrate the Trump campaign to look for dirt against him.  This is a serious misuse of authority, expected only in a police state.  And the Democrats used a British counter-intelligence officer to find dirt on Trump and used his Report as a basis for a US Govt. probe, without revealing the questionable source and the political bias.  Now it has also been revealed that the Democratic campaign used a British professor to try to compromise the Trump campaign.  Maybe they thought that if they did all this via Britain they would be less likely to be found out.  But, the hens come home to roost.  They have been found out, and Obama and Democratic operatives should go to jail.

First, the Mueller probe, that has been going in ever-increasing circles, should be stopped and disbanded.  Second, former FBI and Justice Dept. officials involved in highly partisan actions to try to deny Trump the election should be tried, and thirdly Hillary Clinton  should be investigated for the use of a private server for secret Government information when she was Secty. of State, and she should be tried and sent to jail.  Hopefully that won’t take another year.